Saturday, 29 December 2012

Fail Better Next Time

This video:

is not good.  It probably has good aspects and the idea behind it could be fairly sound, but as it stands it's an embarrassment.  However, i'm fine with being embarrassed and i have to make mistakes to improve.  Once again i've done a custom thumbnail but there's nothing in it that's not in the video.

Now for an analysis of how this went wrong:

  • The idea behind the script:  This was rather thrown together, partly because of the fact that i'm now kind of churning out "twelve days of Christmas" vids and am fairly desperate for the series to finish.  The answer to this is probably to plan them all in advance and probably brainstorm more videos than i'm going to end up making.  As it is, i prepared this all rather hastily.  Also, well i say "script" but it might be more accurate to describe it as a bit of paper with stuff scrawled on it off the top of my head.
  • The ideas conveyed in the script:  Most people, myself included, are pretty unfamiliar with the concepts of spacetime as espoused by Max Tegmark as well as the concept of a Bose-Einstein condensate.  If I had a firmer grasp on them it would probably have holpen.
  • There's a big problem with the sound.  The PC currently has an awfully loud fan which needs addressing, so i had to record the voiceovers quickly.  I really must learn how to do J- and L-cuts, but that could be beyond the capacity of Windows Movie Maker.  I think i'm starting to see its limitations.  I also need a better microphone.  Rather annoyingly, the mic on the old camera was a lot better.
  • The time display leaps around.  I could've resolved this but didn't - i need to be more patient and take longer on editing.
  • The special effect at the end is on a still.  This works OK but i trimmed the video too much and the bit where the camera falls to the chair is missing.
    Anyway, here's the doobley-doo (how's that spelt?):
    All i can say really is that this is not exactly brilliant but everyone's got to start somewhere.

    The days between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, particularly 27th-30th December, are weird, out-of-time type days and people tend to lose track of the day of the week during them.  Some calendars have intercalary days which help to "sort out" the months of the year, and Java has something called "Undecember" for some reason i can't follow.

    If there was a month called Undecember which started in late December and went on for twenty-eight days but was somehow not January, maybe it would be in a different time dimension.  Max Tegmark has looked into this, among many other aspects of cosmology, and believes that the reason there's only one time dimension and three of space (ignoring the other seven for the time being) is that two time dimensions of time and three of space would make the existence of intelligent life and technology impossible, whereas one of space and two of time would make everything go faster than light.  To be honest i can't really follow his argument, probably because i have yet to grasp calculus.

    A Bose-Einstein condensate is an extra state of matter which is sort of beyond solid.  It happens when atoms all enter the lowest quantum state, so in a way they're "doing nothing".

    Links to help with all this:

    Max Tegmark's website:
    Bose-Einstein condensates:

    Just a few words on the execution of the idea:  i'm aware there are big problems with it, for instance in the acting, the effects, the audio and probably the concepts and the concept, but you've got to start somewhere and i can learn from this. 
    It could also be said that i shouldn't slag my own stuff off before people get a chance to see it.  I have also now made this public at about 1400 UT, which is in the morning in the US, when people are probably just coming round from partying the night before or whatever, so that's not good either.  A few things about the still images:
This is the "one-dimensional" universe with two spatial dimensions.  It consists of a vertical strip near the middle of a frame of the video just before the image.

Compare and contrast this:

The black bit in the middle of the pale strip is supposed to be a mobile 'phone.  I don't know if anyone got this.

The other thing about these images is the burgundy surround, from the hoodie colour.  I did this because a one dimensional space would not be surrounded by blackness as it would be the Universe, so there's a good argument for it to be an arbitrary colour in my opinion, so why not burgundy?  It's a nice colour i've only recently decided to wear.

The other still is this:

This is supposed to be me as a Bose-Einstein condensate, which is of course not accurate.  The idea is that because i am literally doing nothing, all the bosons making me up have entered the same quantum level and i have collapsed into a tiny dot, which in reality wouldn't glow because light is only emitted when something changes quantum level.  Makes me wonder what they would look like in fact, if anything.

In other news, dear void, i have to tell you that i am now a member of the Adult Nerdfighters on Facebook, which is probably a Good Thing.

One more Christmas video to go, then i can finally move on.  Phew!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Whoops I Did It Again

Right, so this:

is currently doing pretty well, running at 141 views only seventeen hours after being released into the wild.  It came to me on Xmas Day while i was messing about with the aforementioned nameless objects to which i refer in the title as "kazoos".  A real kazoo looks like this:

(the pinkish rectangle is to hide the other kazoo so i don't have to type an extra S).  The things in the video are apparently known as "party blowers", which strikes me as unsatisfyingly vague.  I wish they had a better name - maybe in German?

The above is of course reminiscent of this:

and also of this:

Clearly the key to popularity is to do something stupid, but that's fine because i'm quite good at that.

Of course, i don't particularly like the word "stupid".

And now for something completely different:

These are thumbnails of most of the videos i've uploaded to YouTube in the past six months or so.  Handsonisbetter is earlier but some of the Other Channel ones overlap timewise with the main ones.  The colours used for the backgrounds may interest some.  Is it a subtle reference if it's obscure though?  Or, is it a subtle reference if it's not subtle?  I have no idea because that would involve judgement.

Today's video is yet another in the twelve days of Xmas series.  It forms a retrospective of the year, including a small selection of the above videos.  Once again, it's a crossover with the Other Channel and includes bits of two vids from there.  Anyway, here it is, suffering from the annoying loss of saturation Windows Live Movie Maker seems to inflict on multiple saves:

I have one more sensible idea for a YT video in the "12 Days" series, and that still won't make twelve.  I need just one more idea, and i'll be done.  To be honest, i've found it a bit of a drag to make these because i've had several other ideas in the meantime and am raring to go with them.  Also, the commitment i've now made to responding to Ninebrassmonkeys' series makes that a bit of a struggle.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Show Must Go On

We're approaching the end of 2012 and it's starting to look a lot like the Two Ronnies were wrong:

I can remember at the time focussing on 2012 and thinking that this serial was, well, rather sexist but also oddly non-futuristic, and this is still so, presumably to make it simpler.  It has its problems and its charm.  The secret police are particularly embarrassing.  A couple of years ago, the idea that home edders might escape to Wales reminded me of this, but more recently it's looking more like Welsh home edders might want to escape to England and even that the Scots might want to.

Anyway, there's been something like a five-day hiatus in my blogging due to Christmas, and in that time i've posted a number of videos, mostly on the theme of Christmas and the end of the world, with this exception:

This follows from another TV series of about the same time as the one above, namely James Burke's 'Connections':

This was inspired by the PSU doing the nasty and the computer grinding to a halt on Christmas Eve, though it turned out it was easily resolved, at least temporarily, by the removal of dust.  Note that it's also sepia, although no cuttlefish were harmed in the making of that particular video.

Today's video is just stupid:

Just an attempt to make a viral video, as it happens, probably a doomed one but you never know.

The Christmas Day video also went rather wonky:

Quite a lot is missing from this and i had to mute two clips due to royalty issues.  It gives the impression of having been made while i was drunk, which is ironic considering i don't imbibe alcohol and the two people clearly visible in that thumbnail are probably inebriated.

I have two major-ish projects coming up.  One is a personal retrospective on this year and the other is an "I'm Old" video, which again will be in sepia.

We will now contemplate the not-so-humble cuttlefish:

Yeah i know, how side-splittingly witty of me.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas In Heaven

I presume everyone knows this:

...which is Monty Python's 'Christmas In Heaven' along with a thumbnail Facebook would ban.

However, so far not everyone knows this:

and they probably never will.  Here's the doobley-doo, which i can't spell:

What's Christmas like in space?  Actually, when is it Christmas in space?

Astronauts have spent Christmas in space from time to time, notably on Apollo 8 when it orbited the Moon in 1968 and on Skylab in 1973 when they made

an Xmas tree out of cans, which shows how good they were at engineering.  However, if you were on another planet, Xmas would be at a different time

for you than it is here.

On Mercury and Venus, it's Christmas every day because the days are longer than the years there.  On Mercury, there is ice at the poles so you can

even have a white Christmas, which is surprising when you think about how hot it is there during the day.

On Mars, there can be a white Christmas but Christmas only occurs once every "mir" (Martian year), which is nearly twice as long as one of your Earth

years and the snow is frozen carbon dioxide or dry ice.

On Jupiter, there's no Christmas because there are no seasons.  The axial tilt means that Jupiter has no solstices or equinoxes.  In any case,

Jupiter's year lasts nearly twelve of ours and its day is less than ten hours long, so it would be a rare event.

Saturn would have Christmases, about once every thirty years, because it has seasons.  Tethys Turlington's honeymoon, however, did not take place

during Christmas.

Uranus, because it orbits on its side and takes eighty-four years to go round the Sun, has nights and days lasting forty-two years each and as a

result its Christmas day lasts forty-two years too, and is very dark.

Neptune takes 165 years to orbit the Sun and has a sixteen hour day, so you get very little Christmas for your money if you went there, though it

would at least be a very special occasion.

Finally, Pluto isn't a planet any more.  Sorry Pluto.  Suto.

Whatever planet you're on, Merry Christmas!

Incidentally, the description's screwed up because i used Notepad to write it with the word wrap turned on.  I shall have to remember not to do that futurally.  However, the main reason for the description on YT is to ensure the tags work properly.

I'm gradually getting bolder with editing and the like.  One thing i have yet to try is to voiceover still images or do picture in picture, and i am currently presuming that we have the facilities to do that on AVLinux.  Otherwise it'll have to be Sony Vegas or whatever, though i hope not.  One thing i have done is to change the intro and outro, specifically introducing two more Easter Eggs and two subscriber buttons.  In this case there's also an Easter Egg in the main part of the video.  Not terribly appropriate for Christmas i suppose.

I'm also planning to respond to the next in the Becoming YouTube series, but i'm not sure how to incorporate it into the Christmas theme.  Actually, i take that back.  If it's about personas, as i suspect it will be, hmm...Sorted!  Though not via props.  However, i suspect the upload will be later this aften while i'm unavailable.

The views are up again, apparently, though the two-day lag, one of which i think is due to time zones and therefore probably isn't a proper day, makes it confusing and difficult to interpret.  Clearly there are other metrics and i need to learn about them.  Here's a graph:

That last rise is to 309 views and seems to be the result of tent-pole programming.

I've also just gained a subscriber, having lost one a couple of days ago.  No idea who it is because YouTube is quite unfriendly with respect to how they display subscriptions.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Welcome To The Beginning Of The World

First of all, today's video is currently unlisted again.  Here's the description:

Physically, the world did not end, of course.  Few people expected it to.  However, if we want to, we can now leave the old world behind and decide it has ended, in the sense that it could be psychologically past.  This is similar to the question of the Law Of Attraction, but that's a subject for another blog.

We can just decide now that we're tired of the old world, and that now we are living in a new, better world, of sympathy, understanding and whatever else the song says.  It sounds simplistic, but then maybe things just are that simple.

and here's the video itself:

It's remarkably brief and poor quality, and the quality goes down when the light comes on.  However, i felt i had to do it and it constitutes the third and last of the three Mayan prophecy videos in the "Twelve Days" series.

On that subject, there is of course this guy:

The Age of Aquarius!  To be honest, i'm not clear when that starts, but i choose to assume it starts today.  I'm going to talk about what the age system is now.

Earth's axis is not at right angles to the Sun but tilts over at about 23.5 degrees.  It also wobbles slowly like a gyroscope over a period of 26 000 years.  As a result, the night sky looks different at the same time of year as the millenia pass.  For instance, the pole star is currently Polaris but it has and will be Vega.  In fact, Vega makes a better pole star than Polaris.  This is because the axis very slowly draws a circle in the sky.

This also means that the position of the Sun in the sky during the Vernal Equinox shifts gradually along the Ecliptic, which is roughly the plane in which the planets and asteroids orbit.  Astrologically rather than astronomically, the Ecliptic is divided into twelve equal arcs bearing the same names as most of the Zodiacal constellations and referred to as "signs".  Since there are twelve of them, over the twenty-six millenium cycle during which the axis precesses ("wobbles"), the equinoctes also precess, moving through the twelve signs and entering the next one along about once every 2160 years.  In fact, to be precise, an age lasts 2147 years, 243 days and twelve hours, which is of course spurious accuracy.

The Age of Aquarius is simply the interval during which the Sun is in the sign (not the constellation) of Aquarius at the Vernal Equinox.  The song says:

Speaking of 'Hair', i really should go into mine some day and explain why it's the way it is.  In fact, while i'm at it:

Like chakras, astrological ages are identifiable entities but it's not clear how useful or meaningful they are beyond that.  However, they are certainly useful as inspirations, which is how i choose to make them.

The font used, however, is another matter:

I'm quite impressed by this font, as it's genuinely seven-segment and therefore highly practical and an ingenious solution introduced at a time before dot matrix displays were cheap or reliable enough to enable anything like print-like characters to be displayed on them, although oddly they superceded Nixie tubes.  Each one of those seven segments, which when all lit display an "8", is either on or off and each character can therefore be associated with a binary integer between zero and ten dozen and seven inclusive.

Regarding the numbers displayed themselves, the top one is the Julian Date, the second is not hexadecimal in spite of appearances, the third and fifth are the Long Count date, needless to say, and the fourth is the date in the Gregorian calendar expressed using British syntax.

That's it for now.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

One Of Those Posts Which Is A Bad Idea

This isn't going to get shared anywhere, but it is going to push a pointful blog entry off the top, which is bad and typical of me.

Kindly peruse this screenshot:

Guess where that's from!  It's also fairly typical.  Presumably someone could look for those names and find out what they were commenting on.  They are unlikely to have forgotten.

There's also this:

This is a scale-adjusted graph of the two channels with the vertical scale of the more popular one multiplied by 250%.  Since it's a shadow of its former self, it's now a lot less popular than it was a year ago and there is in fact now a little overlap in the two view counts, but only since the slightly viral lime green leggings vid.  The lowest view on the Other Channel is still much higher than the mean view of the other.  However, presumably at some point the views on there were quite low.  I should take a look at the start in fact.

And here it is:

It reached 300-odd views after about a month, then jumped again at the end of March before climbing steadily and crashing after exactly a year.  However, there were very few videos and they are uploaded only occasionally.  I don't think anything can be concluded from this.

The other metrics are also important of course.

Another thing about the first graph though is that it doesn't show any particular weekly or other fluctuations present in both, and i was hoping it would.

Only The End Of The World Again

Since the previous video on the 2012 phenomenon was so successful, i made another on the same subject before the dreaded day itself comes.  Thus far, it's not doing as well, and there are multitudinous reasons why that might be so.  Also, i've lost a subscriber and i have no idea why.  The concept of "pity views" has now also occurred to me.

Anyway, here's today's video:

And here's the description:

In a way, it really should be the end of the old, rubbish, world. For one planet recently, it may really have been the end of the world.

It's not surprising that I don't think the world will physically end on 21st December 2012. However, it would be helpful to suppose it will because firstly, we will be happier about it not ending, and secondly, we could just decide that the old world is rubbish anyway, in the sense of the world we've made and what we've done to it, and make a new world anyway. So yes, the old world has ended and the new world is here.

The other thing about this video is the picture of the variable star V838 Monocerotis which was used as a hoax picture of Nibiru, the "Planet X" which was supposed to crash into Earth or something. The irony of that picture is that it may really have been a picture of the end of the world, just not this one. One of the theories about this is that the explosion was caused by a planet crashing into that sun, so the clouds which can be seen around it may include bits of vaporised planet, meaning that it really was the end of the world, just not this one. The star is called V383 Monocerotic and i have no idea why i called it VCV383 Monocerotis all the way through the video! Another odd thing about the explosion is that from here it looked like it was happening faster than the speed of light. This is because the light reflecting off the clouds got here in a different order than the one it left the star in. I realise, by the way, that once again i've messed up the explanation but in a different way than in the video.

Anyway, we should use this occasion to get rid of all the old rubbish in our lives and all the things we regret doing or not doing, and move forwards into a world we can make better. It should be like a super-new year's resolution.

There's a slightly different slant on this one from the last because unlike the Other Channel i'm not going to churn out the same old stuff time after time.  The difference here is the use of the variable star V383 Monocerotis, which i've now realised i called VCV383 all the way through because the VCV reflects the pattern of "383", another example of my mouth running away with me and saying things that come out of nowhere.  This is a star about 20 000 light years away in the Unicorn:

 which was observed to explode in the early 'noughties, raising the question of exactly what year it is now
20 000 light years away, or for that matter exactly what "now" it is.

The well-known image:

 was taken up a few years ago by some of the Nibiru people and used as if it was an image of the mythical Planet X expected to threaten us.  It's always struck me as odd that people were taken in by that as there seemed to be not one shred of evidence for it, although i suppose i believed Velikovsky's stuff.  When i was twelve.

One of the two odd things, though, about this is that it may actually be the end of a different world.  A possible reason for the explosion imaged above is that a planet crashed into the star.  Being a B-type star, V383 Monocerotis is just about cool enough to have a solar system and the impact of a planet, or possibly a star, could have just tipped it over the edge into exploding.

The other strange thing about the star is that the clouds around it seem to have expanded faster than the speed of light.  I could draw a diagram which i imagine explains this as i've now failed to explain it properly twice:

Er, well first of all this shows why it was a good idea not to illustrate 'Here Be Dragons'.  Second of all, i have no idea if this explains it either.  Each of those lines is the same length, though clearly the angle of incidence doesn't equal the angle of reflection so maybe it's in a universe where the laws of physics are different and the velocity of light isn't 299 792 km s^-1 anyway.  What i'm not clear about is if the paths taken by the light are different in the right way.  Clearly the photons on the outside are travelling away from us before they're reflected, and the further away they go, the longer it takes for them to come back, so they take a longer time to get to us the further away the reflections are, but that would surely mean they take longer than they would otherwise and the - no, i've got it, but i can't explain it yet.  Never mind.

Finally, i've set up a Facebook group called "Nineteenthly" for people to join if they want, just here:

I had to join people on my friends list to get it to work, so probably everyone reading this is already a member.  Since the only person who reads this is me, that's even more probably true.

So tomorrow i'll be talking about the end of the world one more time, then i'll move on.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Xmas, not Christmas

Today's video:

Here's the description:

Xmas is often thought of as a recent short form for people who are too lazy to write "Christmas" out in full.  The real story is entirely different.

The form "Xmas" has been used since early mediaeval times.  During the Middle Ages, scribes wrote largely on prepared animal skins, either vellum or parchment, in other words leather.  Even today, leather is expensive and in those days books were made of sheets of leather.  Therefore, it was important for abbreviations to be written in order to save space, and in fact the very calligraphy became compressed into the familiar "Gothic" or blackletter style we associate with "Ye Olde English".

X was a common abbreviation for "Christ", and is also found in, for example, Xtopher for "Christopher", and even survives today in circuit diagrams, where Xtal is written for "crystal", incorrectly as it happens.  This is because the Greek for Christ is XPICTOC in Greek letters.  The letter they write as "X" is chi, which is pronounced today as the ch in "loch".

"Jesus H Christ" reflects the Greek way of abbreviating "Jesus", which to us looks like JHC, so it's interpreted as his initials.  The H in fact stands for the Greek long E, or eta.  This abbreviation can be seen on tombstones and in churches.

Finally, i wanted to make this video on a train but i was too shy, and i walked backwards to avoid the wind ruining the sound, and because I'm walking backwards for Xmas.

I'm afraid that's it for today, i'm tired.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lost Pets

It's a bone of contention among animal liberationists, and therefore to some extent myself, wimpy mere lacto-ovo-vegetarian that i am, that different species respond differently to the same substances.  It's said, for example, that it was a lucky chance that Alexander Fleming chose not to test penicillin on guinea pigs as it's highly toxic to them and that would have halted antibiotic development, although apparently there was interest in garlic for the same purposes a decade or so earlier and later there was research into phage therapy, so it might just have meant a different history rather than a worse one.

Anyway, what this means is that many of the things we can eat safely as food are poisonous to cats and dogs, which are remarkably distantly related to humans compared to most other mammals.  Also, many things are poisonous to both us and them, but unlike them we learn through language and can pass on information, and as a result are less likely to eat mistletoe or holly.  Tonight's video then, yet to be published:

This is just to warn people about things which are poisonous to dogs or cats.  Namely, onions, antifreeze (mentioned in the description rather than the video in order to avoid getting less focussed - more on that in a minute), chocolate, raisins and xylitol.  That also suggests that other related or otherwise similar plants are also toxic to them, namely:

  • Onions - garlic, leeks, ramsons (wild garlic), scallions, chives and shallots, all in the genus Allium.
  • Chocolate - coffee, mate, holly, guarana and cola nuts, all high in xanthines, which are caffeine-like substances.  Oddly, this seems to mean that although holly is poisonous to both humans and these carnivores, it's for different reasons.  Holly is toxic to us because the saponins cause anaemia.
  • Raisins - grapes and sultanas.  This is a bit obvious but probably worth stating.
Here's the description:


Many foods safe for us are dangerous to cats and dogs.  These include raisins, chocolate, onions and chewing gum.  At Christmas, they're particularly vulnerable so watch out and keep them safe.

Keeping out of the TMI zone, where i usually make my home, the dangerous foods are:

Chewing gum which contains xylitol, recently found to be toxic to dogs.

Just because a cat or dog has eaten some of these foods before and seems to be OK, that doesn't mean it is.  The poisons can build up in their bodies and the next onion, piece of chocolate or whatever can be the one which kills it.

Also, remember that holly and mistletoe are also poisonous to them as they are to us, but unlike us they are more likely to ingest them accidentally.  Antifreeze is another one, but it probably won't be an issue.

The reason the poison can build up lies in the difference between us and carnivores.  We are accustomed to eating large amounts of plant food.  Animals tend not to be poisonous in themselves when eaten.  They can contain dangerous bacteria such as
Clostridium botulinum, or they can themselves be poisonous because they contain venom, which is however a protein and therefore actually edible - it just needs to be kept away from the bloodstream while active.  This is particularly true of the land and freshwater vertebrates that dogs and cats tend to eat, although they do eat the plant food that their prey eats if they eat the whole animal, as they would in the wild.  This means that their livers are not as good as ours at detoxifying the substances in their food.  Also, one way in which the liver deals with poisons is to make them more water-soluble so they can be excreted via the kidneys.  If an animal can't do this, the poison will build up in its body until it can easily be killed by rather a small dose of the food it's apparently eaten safely before.

Therefore, please keep pets away from the foods i mention over Christmas, and in fact all the time.  Like us, they may not know what's good for them.

A couple of comments about making this.  One is that for once i've tried to leave the "too much information" zone i spend my life in out of concern for saving the animals, so i've only gone into more detail later, and also missed out certain things such as antifreeze (which is also poisonous to humans), just for the sake of communication.  This is quite difficult for me to do but i need to practice it if i want to communicate.

The other point, which also concerns communication, is that i've tried to speak up due to the very quiet audio.  I am aware of the problem and the ultimate solution is to get a microphone.  Ironically, the previous camera had a better mike ("mic"?) although the quality of the video was much lower.

The stills in the video are:


Views went up again:

That's an increase from 267 to 284, so almost two gross views a day.  The 2012 video is still picking up views too, and most of the views of the mistletoe video have occurred in the last nine hours, though neither of those phenomena are recorded on the chart because they occurred since the day before yesterday - YT stats are weird.  I also realised today that the "301" phenomenon seems not to apply to the uploader, only to the general view, something i never hung around long enough on the Other Channel to observe.  The Other Channel is very much a "hit and run" thing:  someone asked for advice on it over a week ago and i have yet to respond.

Once again i have to achieve a balance between detachment and concern at the reduced increase.  Is that going to become a decline?  Also, i'm not picking up subscribers very fast compared to the increase in views, meaning that this may all be "one hit wonders".  I need to make some kind of link between the videos which rewards subscription.  To some extent this is in the playlists, which incidentally are as follows:

  • The Twelve Days Of Christmas (under construction, the current series):
  • Really short videos:
  • Police - this is just a silly private list of "Jazz Police", the Vegan Police scene from Scott Pilgrim and "The Dream Police" (no link because it won't work for anyone else, but that's all it is).
  • Tour Of The Solar System - these are annotated movies from Celestia, one of which has an in-joke about the Other Channel in it.
  • From handsonisbetter -  everything on the other other channel, which has been abandoned and whose password i've lost.   The HE-AL time capsule video is on here.  The reason it's been abandoned is mentioned in "My video deletion policy - please watch".  Incidentally, the current channel no longer has that problem:
  • Videos related to the Other Channel - strictly speaking the "meggings" video belongs here too, which is more in the spirit of the Other Channel, which probably explains its success.
  • Herbalism - this will get a lot longer and is probably one of the more worthwhile bits of content on here - possibly the pets video belongs in here too:
  • Home education - not the nuts and bolts of the curriculum so much as issues around this thing that we do, whatever it is:
  • Epic - i have no idea why that's there - it's just one hour-long video of "epic" music, so it's not even a playlist.  Really not worth posting either.
One more thing:  i'm thinking of starting a Facebook group on the channel.  Any thoughts?

Monday, 17 December 2012

Marcus Aurelius's Approach To Online Videos

So, it's working right now:

but that may be a blip and it doesn't mean it'll continue to work at this level.  I should learn from what i've done of course, and try to do more of the same, but if the views go down, they just do, though i need to think about that.

In the meantime, here's today's offering:

This is in fact the second in my Christmas series, the first being this:

I'm planning to make twelve of these and have various ideas.  The thing is, the elephant in the room phenomenon loomed again.  Releasing one video a day means that the closer i get to Christmas, or rather the Midwinter Festival, the weirder not mentioning it seems.  The trouble with that is maintaining interest after Christmas - topical video views drop off fast, so you have to make a constant effort to come up with new stuff without getting any support from older videos.  This is still to some extent true on this channel, for instance Patrick Moore is someone in whom interest will, sadly, probably decline.

Rudyard Kipling was a well-known author and poet of the Imperial Era of our history.  He's a bit of a mixture because in part he's disturbingly pro-imperialist, but precisely because he is, he's quite influenced by Stoic philosophy.  This can be seen in his poem If-:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:

This is Stoicism, as practiced by Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Seneca, which is also sometimes seen as influencing Christianity, though that's clearly also quite heavily influenced by Cynicism, as has Stoicism itself.  The British seemed to believe that in order to emulate the Romans, they needed to adopt their philosophy of life.  Stoicism was the dominant such approach in later Roman times.  Stoic physics is remarkably up to date, though not Einsteinian or having anything to do with quantum physics, and its psychology includes the belief that one can deal with life by recognising that unhappiness is caused by passion, and that the one thing one has control over is one's inward reaction to external circumstances.  It's quite Vulcan in fact.

My views on it are mixed.  Shortly before i returned yet again to the Church, i adopted a Stoic approach to life.  However, i found that there was in fact a problem with it.  Whereas i found it relatively easy to pursue an approach where i was able to deal equably with situations, i also found that i was missing out on an important part of my life, namely the passions, which are part of being human, and that it was somehow incomplete to ignore that side.  Therefore, i gave up and decided i preferred being miserable.  Being Stoical has a lot to recommend it but i chose to reject it as a complete philosophy of life.  I see Christianity as closer to Cynicism.

Having said that, a Stoical approach has its place.  One such place is in my approach to YouTube.  Those figures may fluctuate up and down wildly, and if they get low again i should presumably do something about them if my priorities remain in that area, but at the current low level it makes little sense to worry too much about relatively small fluctuations.  Such fluctuations used to occur a lot in the turnover of our business and it was really to do with the noise level of what in the end was a very quiet system, that is, it was so small anyway that arbitrary fluctuations were easy to mistake for more significant trends.  It's now smoother, so maybe if we can just hang on for a bit longer, we'll get into a steadier upward trend on this.

Anyway, on a slightly different subject, people are supposed to be promoting charities on YT.  I haven't done that and am ambivalent about many charities, particularly medical ones, but it is possible the Alzheimer's Society are relatively OK, though i haven't checked them out.  Save The Children is also apparently relatively good.  Therefore, this may be a bad idea, but here's one of my favourite people again, talking about the Alzheimer's Society:

I suspect that if i had realised people were doing this i would've done the Children's Society but i don't know - i should probably be less cynical, ironically.  It's very hard for me to do anything because of this stuff.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

...And Rest!

It's the Sabbath of course, so why am i even here?  Well, it's about rest.

I have decided to rest before publishing the next video, which i'll do this evening.  It's now at two hundred and fifty five, i think - hard to tell because YT does weird things with viewing stats.  The thing to do now is leave a bit of time so it doesn't get pushed off "Featured", or whatever it is that happens when you submit a new video.  However, i'm still trying to keep the pace up, which is about to lead to conflict with the season.  The answer to that is presumably to upload seasonal videos, and i have a few in mind along with the disquiet that what's seasonal to me may not be seasonal to everyone else.  Come to think of it, the 2012 phenomenon is exactly that.

The gap between videos may in fact contribute to the success of the Other Channel, although there's clearly a lot of other stuff helping there too.

Anyway, what's going on in Real Life, whatever that is?  The answer is that we're going to listen to Chris Conway on 't radio this aften, a musician friend of ours.  Here's his website whence you can download free music, but please don't just do that.  You can listen to him here from 2:30pm - he's being interviewed by another friend, which shows you really how small the City of Leicester is rather than how many famous people we know.

Secondly, there will be an interestingly similar live stream from Alex Day which will act as a bonding experience between Daniel and myself:

He's aiming to break the record for the most purchases in one hour.

Finally, this evening at Yesim's, i shall be making my first ever attempt to tell a story live in front of an audience.  It'll be 'The Nail Fairy'.  I have in fact done this kind of thing before but only on YouTube, such as this:

This is a bit of a mondegreen.

That's it - today's sorted.  Tomorrow will, i hope, see the nuts session actually happen.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Must've Done Something Right

This is going - well, not exactly viral, but it's behaving more like a stripy codename video:

Of course, in some ways it's more like an Other Channel video than the usual fare here, so maybe that's not surprising.  Presumably i've managed to capture the Zeitgeist.  As a result, i'm delaying the next video on the grounds that i want to give this one breathing space.  I've also made "Why I Don't Wear Women's Clothes" a response to it.

So, "brazenness, audacity, notoriety, entertainment, uniqueness, ostentation, incredulity, spectacle, never gets old, ridicule".  These are the key features of the Other Channel which lead to its success, abstracted from the subject matter.  They are, i think, what led to it getting picked up by blogs, fark, 4chan and the rest, and of course the videos on it also have re-watch value, and i can even attach merchandise to them, which is quite an achievement.  These qualities can also be linked to the above video.  I also made it public at 10 pm, which might have been right for North America, and it's still topical.  It's also in "HowTo and Style" rather than "People And Blogs", which probably helps - the second most popular video in the former today is six times more popular than the second most popular in the latter (the voting one is not really in the right place - it should be in "News And Politics").

Anyway, today's video is here, and of course as of yet it's unlisted:

It is of course about the end of the Long Count, or rather, the Long Count "going round the clock" after nearly three zagier years.  Here's the paraphrase:

In a way, the Mayan 2012 prophecy is incorrect, but then again it could be made to be correct.  Bear with me please.

First of all, the Maya themselves did not believe the world would end on 21st December 2012.  There are inscriptions on their monuments using the Long Count Calendar thousands of years in the future from 2012.  The significance of the Long Count is that it represents the end of a cycle, rather similar to our year 2000 or the astrological system of ages.

There is no apparent astronomical sign suggesting anything unusual.  The Coalsack Nebula is not particularly significant, nor is Xibalba.  Mercury, Venus and the Sun will be aligned, but that happens on a regular basis, several times every one of our years in fact.  There seems to be nothing significant at all about the positions of the bodies in the outer Solar System.

Nonetheless, this is an opportunity.  If enough of us believe that we can make a difference and change the world for the better, we can use this date to "lever" the world into a better position by changing our own lives, being the change we want to see, undertaking random acts of kindness and loving the world.  As John Lennon once said, "war is over if you want it".  That's what I think we should do, and we can make that happen.  So how about it?

I agree this is a simplistic message, but sometimes things are that simple.  I have no idea if this would work but i'm taking a leap of faith and deciding to believe that it will.  There's very little to lose at this point.

Some background information.  First of all, here is what i call the Stone of the Fifth Sun:

(this is a coloured replica).  This has hardly any connection to the Long Count calendar (although it has some).  To be honest, this reminds me of a bone saw with its major negative cathexis, except of course that compared to this, a bone saw's cathexis is virtually zero.  The Aztec calendar, as it happened, forecast that the world would end in 1519, which was pretty on the nose for them since it was when Hernando Cortes (whose name i mispronounce) turned up.  There's also talk of white people coming from the East using a symbolic cross, but i'm not sure about that and in fact i sometimes wonder how accurate the Spanish account of the Aztec civilisation is.  If it's remotely accurate, it is at least an example of how organised Christianity can actually improve circumstances in some ways, which is the main reason i'm suspicious.

Now for the 11:11 am GMT on 7AB6 thing.  Here's a diagram of the inner Solar System on that date:

The chief interesting phenomenon in this picture is that Venus, Mercury and the Sun are all lined up.  However, this happens regularly - i'm guessing it happens at least twice a year.  Nor is Earth anywhere near them, although astrologically there might be a significant angle.

Here's the Moon:

The only interesting thing about this is how uninteresting it is.  It's neither a new Moon nor a full Moon and therefore nowhere near either a lunar or solar eclipse.

This is the outer Solar System (sort of):

I can't see much interesting there, although pareidolia might lead me to make some spurious connections if i let it.

Finally, here's the Coal Sack:

Whereas it is probably unusually far north in the planet's sky due to the fact that it's the winter solstice, again i can't see much of interest.

However, this is not the point!  The point is that we can just decide it's a significant event and act accordingly.  However, the key is in the word "act", unless we're talking about stopping doing things we shouldn't.  Enough people believing in this and acting together could make a difference even if there's nothing "real" going on.  So we should use it as an inspiration, not reject it just because we think it's New Age rubbish.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Two Icelands and Balloons

I've just realised that the last blog entry was about completely the wrong subject.  My initial plan today was to write about the Two Icelands.

Here's a map of the first Iceland:

This is actually Thule from Ancient World in the book.  It can't really be called Iceland as it has a balmy climate rather like the South of France, but it is in a sense the same Iceland as the one in this world.  In another one of my peculiar false memories, in 'His Dark Materials', Philip Pullman chose to call Iceland "Fireland", but i have a feeling that never happened.  Maybe i'm wrong and it's the other way round.

The trans-Caledonian big splodge of lava the size of Ireland is quite a bit colder than France in most places and quite a bit hotter in a few.  It also has more fjords, a much smaller population and had a much smaller role in repelling Cipangoan invaders from across the Great Ocean.  Then again, there is no Oxidentaru in this particular timeline either.

This other Iceland is part of an only slightly more realistic flight of fancy made from Luton Airport to Reykjavik and thence to Nuuk to meet my cousin Anne, who lives in British Columbia.  It is in fact a rather unfair route as it's a lot closer to Luton than Vancouver, which is near where she lives.  This will of course never happen.

Another thing which will never happen involves the other Iceland, equally real but a lot smaller and closer.  This is often symbolised thus:

Yeah i know, copyright, but guess what?  I think Iceland might be my happy place.  Bear with me on this one as i'm about to go off on a tangent.

I basically have two dream jobs right now.  One of them is working in the sewers, the other is stacking shelves in Iceland.  Both are unattainable flights of fancy of a nature more like the Ultima Thule mentioned at the start of this entry than even the one via Reykjavik to Nuuk to meet my cousin.  I could no more get a job stacking shelves at Iceland than i could visit the fantasy island mentioned above.  This is what people don't appreciate about me - i am not jobless because i haven't looked for work, but jobless because it's literally impossible for me to find a job.  As a result, my only option is to pursue self-employment.  As it happens, in some ways i'm happy to be self-employed, even when HMRC type a random telephone number on a piece of paper which they claim is how much i owe them, but to be honest i have no other option, and from time to time this worries me a lot, because i'm not even very good at being self-employed, let alone employed.

Therefore in that way Iceland is my happy place.  It's a kind of fantasy i occasionally comfort myself with - maybe i could go and work for them and get as much as the minimum wage one day.  I won't hold my breath though.

All that brings me to the whole issue of big furry animals like this:

Whereas there are people out there who are into this in a frankly sexual way, i am not one of them, though i have nothing against them.  There are probably a whole lot more people out there who are as scared of the kind of things depicted in the image above as many people are of this:

My personal hypothesis about these individuals is that they are a highly toxic species of hominin, or perhaps a mimic of such a species, with warning colouration like the Azureus frog:

or indeed their namesakes:

The reason i think that is that i can't find anyone who thinks clowns are funny.

There are interesting parallels between phobias and paraphilias.

Anyway, this brings me back to the subject of low-status jobs.  Possibly one of the lowest-status jobs of all is the poor guy who has to dress up as a furry animal and hand out leaflets about fast-food chains or some such concern on the High Street.  Most people probably wouldn't want to do this for very long.  But some would.

So here's my short story scenario, which will one day get written:

A man is working in a high-status and also very worthwhile job which is well-paid and rewarding.  For instance, maybe he's a human rights lawyer or a pediatrician.  Something which almost anyone other than my ex-sister in law would see as above reproach and unquestionably worthwhile and respectable.  This job has everything going for it:  he saves people from torture, stops their families from being murdered, and the people he supports in this way are themselves fighting to end oppression in their own countries.  He is most definitely one of the good guys.  Furthermore, inexplicably his job is also well-paid (i did say the story wasn't finished).  He supports his wife and children well in a positive way and they have a high standard of living and are also all generous and nice people.  However, he has a secret:  he's a furry.  (If you don't know what a furry is, look here - i think the mature content filter's on.).  He has always quietly wanted to dress up as a giant furry animal and in fact he does that very thing sometimes when his wife and kids are out.  Every time he walks past someone dressed up like this, he desperately wants a job like that himself.

One day, he walks past just such an individual and it's such a wonderful fursuit that he finally snaps.  He throws in his job as a human rights lawyer (i think that's what he's going to have to be, sorry - lack of imagination) and gets a job giving out leaflets dressed as, i dunno, an anthropomorphic hippo.  He even encounters his family that way, but he never tells them.  He has to play along with his colleagues' complaints about the sweatiness, itchiness and embarrassment plus the poor pay and conditions in various ways, but secretly, this is his perfect job.

Unfortunately, and this bit is much sketchier, his wife finds out and he has to give up and go back to his crappy well-paid job saving people's lives and fighting for justice in totalitarian regimes while being paid a packet.  The story closes as he sits miserably at his desk, looking into a bleak future of socially useful and positive work which is also handsomely paid.

This is partly inspired by the fact that what i consider to be unattainable dream jobs are quite different than what most people might expect:  shelf-stacking in a vast impersonal supermarket chain that spends its whole time screwing its workers and bullying its suppliers while devastating the planet (not Iceland necessarily) or spending my entire working day covered in oomskah.  The "day job", such as it is, is very rewarding and interesting, and i love it, but i also hate it.

So there you go:  that's the blog entry i was about to write before i took off into a strange realm ruled over by Nine Tiles or whatever he calls himself.

Proactive or Reactive?

I decided this morning to make a video intended to be a response, namely this:

which is supposed to be a response to this:

but is in a sense more of a response to this:

I have long suspected this is so, but it may not be important, as i say.

In fact, i have low expectations.  I tend to link videos of my own to extremely popular videos, which probably won't work because the channel probably gets inundated by responses.  Also, because it's more a response to the second video, it's slightly off-topic.

This raises the question of whether it's better to be reactive or proactive.  This is reactive, unusually so in fact.  Certain prominent YouTubers say you shouldn't make video responses and the last time i successfully made a video response was to imrational about five years back and is long gone, i think, and i can't remember why.  It turned out he couldn't hear it and it was very poor quality visually, so maybe that was why.

Anyway, here he is:

In the next couple of days, i will make another pathetic attempt at tentpole programming by making a video about the Mayan 2012 "prophecy".  It will be unwatched and disappear without trace.  But, just as i have detached myself from getting these entries read, i will probably do well to stop trying to make my videos popular and concentrate on something else.  Another reason i shouldn't've bothered to make this video.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Back To The Future

This is going to be incestuous and navel-gazy because of The Silence.

Here's tomorrow's video:

Yes, it's another leggings video, but to give it some context there was stuff in the media in the past few days about "meggings" - leggings for men.  That thumbnail (and YT have reintroduced custom thumbnails - yay!) reveals the common crotch erosion problem which used to afflict twentieth-century leggings, which gives you some idea of their antiquity.  This is also a bit of a cheat because i'm wearing them as underwear and just took off my trackie bottoms for the video.

So, the periodic quixotic persuasion drive by the fashion industry to get men into leggings has yet again recurred.  This is getting really old.  IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!  It didn't work with skirts in the '70s, leotards in the '90s, and it didn't work the last umpteen times with men's leggings.  It won't work this time either.  In fact, i'm starting to wonder if it's actually about promoting men's leggings at all or something else, such as attracting attention generally to fashion and getting people to go "hell no" a hell of a lot to bump up some profile or other.

As it happens, whereas it'd be nice to be relieved of the tired old sniggers and corny jokes about what i wear on my lower half, there's also an oddly positive side to the continued failure of the industry to double the size of the market for their more subjectively gendered products, which is that market forces are not queen (or king).  Try as they might, they can't increase the number of units shifted in this area and that means that there are more powerful things in the world than the market and that people are not infinitely malleable.  The only trouble is, why does it have to be this which is not flexible rather than something else?  The rigidity is the result of conservatism rather than radicalism, specifically the rather pathetic issues of not wanting to appear "girly" or wear clothes that make one's genitals visible.

The reason for the title of this post is that i've once again got ahead of myself.  I have crept into the future, which may be problematic because it misses current events, but the thing about current events is that they frequently become past events, at which point people stop watching the videos.  So today's video was made yesterday, and here it is:

This is about how we should try to transfer life lessons from areas of success to areas of failure and again i talk about the issue of the peripheral working better than the central, which is apparently my unique issue and not a widespread problem.  One key factor seems to be caring too much, which is for some reason the kiss of death.  It even works to kill something off if i start caring about something about which i was formerly apathetic, as happened with Big Science and maths.  I think this is linked to the difficulty i had in getting a girlfriend when i was younger, a problem which was solved by giving up, and the impossibility of finding a job, whose solution was to give up and become self-employed, which incidentally isn't a particularly good solution, unlike my marriage which is.

The other interesting YouTube thing which happened today can be illustrated by this graph:

The first bit is the entire history of the channel and mainly makes sense.  The lower graph is its history over the past month or so, and shows two inexplicable peaks and what i'm hoping is a recent rise to a plateau, or even the start of a rise to a plateau.  Interestingly, it shows no weekly or even periodic pattern of peaks and troughs so far as i can see.  One of the problems with YT analytics is that they don't cover the day before you look at them, so you have to try to remember what's happened and can't tell if something you're doing right now is working.  I haven't managed to track down where that rise is coming from yet, and it could just be a random fluctuation.

Just out of interest, here's a comparison with this blog - i never look at these things on here but this is my all-time view graph on Minus2909:

I have yet to look at shorter term views, but at a glance it looks quite easy to understand.  The flat line for the first couple of years is connected rather intimately with the fact that at the time this wasn't my main blog.  The other blog has been deleted by the way, in keeping with my very tempting policy described on this abandoned channel (Handsonisbetter, abandoned because of this very policy, which led to complete absence of videos apart from a couple i couldn't delete because of other people wanting them kept up)

I am currently ignoring this policy, or rather the effects of feeling ignored, and consider the fact that this blog is unread as a plus.

Anyway, there's then a climb from July onwards, i think probably due to daily postings and links from social network sites.  In December, there's a fall, but this may be due to the fact that the month is not even half over.  I hope that's not why because i'm working on making this blog less read, and that's a serious statement - i can learn from making this blog unpopular because it becomes a "horrible" warning.

Now this next bit is sort of in real time.  I have yet to look at the stats over the short term.  I'm now a little worried about that peak over the summer because it looks like a climb, which is not what i want.  It kind of confirms my peripheral activity problem i'm trying to conquer.  I've stopped tagging, but i don't know if tags make any difference to reads or page ranks, or whether they're just so people can find posts, about which i don't care because this is a "door ajar" diary which nonetheless avoids anything i'm not comfortable sharing.  This is the kind of graph i'm hoping to see in a minute when i fiddle with the analytics on here (or whatever they call it):

If i don't see this, it means my usual peripheral activity problem is repeating itself.

Right, so - sharp intake of breath!  Bear with me while i fiddle with the as yet unseen views graph for December 2012 and confront the truth:

Right, well i find that somewhat encouraging because i reckon the general trend there is downwards, which is as it should be.  I am however quite happy that the Patrick Moore entry is one of the most popular.

Now i feel very slightly like Rachel Green(e) of the indeterminate final vowel.  There's no point in explaining that, or at least i hope there's not.

By the way, if you happen to be reading this, please feel free to continue.  It's just that i would like to know what's behind peripheral success and central failure, and it's a kind of quantum thing.